Musicians: Plug Into Net Neutrality at the FCC!

Comments

6 comments posted

Sorry to yank your plug,

Submitted by Brett Glass (not verified) on January 8, 2010 - 9:27pm. Sorry to yank your plug, guys, but as a musician who has made very little money from his work (in part due to piracy), I think you’re barking up the wrong tree when you say that enabling Internet piracy is a good thing. BitTorrent was created for the purpose of stealing music, and it’s horrendous to think that any group that claims to support musicians would be in favor of REQUIRING ISPs not to block it. Please do not represent musicians as in favor of this regulation. A few big names who are already rich might be, but we little guys are not.

Thanks for the comment,

Submitted by Casey on January 11, 2010 - 6:45pm.

Thanks for the comment, Brett, but I feel compelled to point out a few basic facts here.

1. FMC cares about intellectual property and copyright. So much so, in fact, that we think artists should have more opportunities hang on to their copyrights and exploit ‘em as they see fit!

2. Support of net neutrality doesn’t just include “a few big names.” Erin McKeown, for example, is the definition of a self-sustaining artist, and she supports preserving a open internet. Ditto jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, indie-rock bandleader Charles Bissell (The Wrens) hip-hop act Dead Prez, avant-classical ensemble Kronos Quartet and so on and so forth. None of these acts are superstars on the level of say, R.E.M., but they all value the incredible platform the open internet provides.

3. Since you’re a musician, you’ve surely collaborated with other artists. I’m a musician/engineer myself, and I regularly use BitTorrent and other data transfer protocols to upload and download large files. I make money from mixing and mastering peoples’ records, and I engage in collaboration with other artists — all activities made possible by having access to an open network platform. Actually, I just released a record which is selling well on several continents, and I don’t even play live. I crafted “added-value” items — podcasts, videos, enhanced liners, even a short story — that I offer to customers who purchase the physical product directly from my site. (Of course, I also sell at all the major online retailers.) Suffice it to say, I couldn’t have done ANY of this without the benefit of an open internet. Trust me, I’ve been playing professionally since 1988 or so, and I remember what a bear it was to get your stuff heard by the people most likely to support it. Now I can blow minds with the click of a mouse. (The minds that count, anyway!)

4. There is nothing in the FCC’s NPRM that in any way condones the unlawful exchange of copyrighted material. Net neutrality merely ensures that users are able to upload and download the lawful content of their choice and use the lawful services and applications of their choice without having such activities interfered with by ISPs. A legitimate digital music marketplace should be one powered by ingeneuity and choice, not anticompetitive restrictions.

On a purely personal note (I reiterate: personal), I think the argument the ISPs make about losing capital incentive to maintain their netwoks is disngenuous at best. When you live in a major marketplace and have only ONE choice of provider (with poor service to boot!) I wouldn’t say that the current situation is optimal. Perhaps with actual marketplace competition, we wouldn’t need net neutrality provisions — if an ISP were gouging their customers, prioritizing/redirecting traffic, crippling legit data transfers, you could just make the switch to another provider. But we both know that’s currently not an option for most Americans.

Keep the lanes of transfer open. Then let’s all come together to talk about how best to defeat piracy. I’m banking on a robust marketlace of fully licensed services powered by access, ubiquity and interoperability. But that’s just me. Whatever solutions we seek out, they should work for the majority of creators — large and small — and not just the interests of a powerful few stakeholders.

Casey, if you really believe

Submitted by Brett Glass (not verified) on January 12, 2010 - 3:04pm. Casey, if you really believe that copyright is important, then you should not favor rules which were specifically intended — by companies like BitTorrent, Inc. and Vuze which make their money supporting piracy — to enable pirates. I know your group receives substantial amounts of money from Google, which favors weakening copyright protections as much as possible because it makes its money by serving up copies of other people’s copyrighted material. But if you’re really advocating for musicians, you’ll refuse Google’s money and push for an end to piracy and the tools that enable it. “Network neutrality” regulation would not help musicians to “get heard.” In fact, it would keep them from being heard. In particular, it would keep ISPs from giving priority to time-sensitive activities, such as audio streaming, to make sure that the audio quality was good. With that regulation in place, users would get annoying, choppy audio and would stop listening. They’d also pay more for their Internet and might have to pay by the bit (which would also discourage them from exploring the work of artists they hadn’t heard before). As for the relatively few musicians who have spoken in favor of “network neutrality:” I’ve spoken to several of them, and once they understand what’s really at issue they realize that they’ve been misled by the lobbyists (most of whom are also paid by Google). Besides working as a musician, I am also an independent ISP. And I can therefore tell you for certain that the issue of investment is very, very real. Since the FCC’s “notice of proposed rule making” was issued, investors have refused to fund us; in fact, some of our prior investors have asked us to buy them out. And they will not invest in us in the future if we’re subjected to regulation that would drive up our costs and harm our ability to provide quality service. In fact, the regulations that are being proposed by the FCC would outlaw our most popular and consumer-friendly rate plans, thus driving our customers away and causing us and other independent ISPs to shut down. Want to see an end to competition in the world of Internet service? Then go ahead and advocate “network neutrality” regulations. The only companies that will survive it will be the big telephone and cable companies, and you’ll really have no choice.

Brett, We do not ?recieve

Submitted by Casey on January 13, 2010 - 2:48pm.

Brett, We do not “recieve substantial amounts of money from Google.” I’m not sure how you “know” this, but you’re wrong.

It is difficult to have a substantive debate when you are clearly laboring under any number of misapprehensions.

While your published Form 990

Submitted by Brett Glass (not verified) on January 14, 2010 - 12:21am.

While your published Form 990 on Guidestar.org doesn’t show your contributors (Why? Is there something to hide?), there’s plenty of evidence that FMC receives substantial support from Google. You got free labor (a Google employee, called a “Google policy fellow,” working in your office at no charge to you last summer); free advertising (through the “Google Grants” program — worth up to $10K per month); sponsorship of your yearly conference (the Google logo appeared prominently on the Web page); help and support from Google’s other lobbying groups (e.g. Public Knowledge). Google is very good at hiding the money trails when it gets organizations in DC to lobby for its agenda, but it’s not hard to ferret them out if you know what to look for. Google is using you to harm musicians and their interests.

For an explanation of why

Submitted by Songwriter (not verified) on January 17, 2010 - 2:02pm.

For an explanation of why network neutrality regulation would be very bad for musicians, songwriters, and other artists, see

http://blog.artsandlabs.com/2009/11/artslabs-statement-on-new-york-city-...

and

http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7020355251

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